MANHATTAN, Kan. – Coming off a historic victory at the Big 12 Championship meet last weekend, Director of Track and Field and Cross Country Cliff Rovelto was unanimously named Women’s Coach of the Year for the third time in his career and freshman Nina Schultz was the third-straight Wildcat woman named Outstanding Freshman of the Year, the conference office announced on Thursday.
The honor is the first for Rovelto since the 2002 season when he led the women to the Big 12 Championship title. His other honor came in 2001 following the women winning the program’s first Big 12 Championship. For Schultz, it is the freshman’s first end-of-the-year conference award of her career. She joins teammates A’Keyla Mitchell (2015) and Shadae Lawrence (2016) as the only Wildcats to win the award.
Rovelto guided the 11th-ranked women’s side to an upset victory over Texas with a program-best 133 points to claim the Wildcats’ third outdoor Big 12 title. He joins Beverly Kearney (Texas) and Pat Henry (Texas A&M) as the only coaches in the Big 12 era to win at least three women’s outdoor Coach of the Year awards.
“Championships and awards are a reflection of the efforts of a whole lot of people,” Rovelto said about the honor. “Our athletes, coaching staff, support staff and administration should all also be recognized for their efforts this season.”
At the Big 12 Championship, Schultz helped lead the team to its first conference title since 2002 with an individual title of her own in women’s high jump with a personal-best effort of 1.82m/5-11.50. Over the course of the weekend, Schultz also recorded a personal best in the javelin throw (47.67m/156-05) and posted solid performances in the long jump (6.41m/21-00.50 (3.3)), 100-meter hurdles (13.40 (3.5)) and the 4×400-meter relay (3:36.94) to earn High Point Scorer of the Meet honors after accumulating 25 points.
Earlier in the season, the freshman broke the Canadian U20 national record and won her first collegiate heptathlon at the Jim Click Combined Events. Her score of 6,021 points is the fourth-best point total in team history and is currently the fourth-best heptathlon score in Division I.
“It is definitely a tremendous honor,” Schultz said about receiving the recognition. “My outdoor season got off to a bit of a slow start. However, at the Big 12 Championship I really peaked when it mattered the most. I am excited for the rest of the season.”
K-State returns to action next week as the team heads to Austin, Texas, for the 2017 NCAA Division I Track and Field West Preliminary. More information on the meet, including ticket information, a complete schedule and more, can be found on the Texas track and field website here.
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